Rail needs money to get to fuel depot

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The Ethio Djibouti Railway SC (EDR) is looking for funds to connect the electrical heavy rail to the fuel depot in Awash.
The line connecting Djibouti ports with central Ethiopia has replaced the historical Franco-Ethiopia line and commenced operation in 2018 dry transporting containerized and bulk cargo.
“If we connect the line with Awash we shall easily transport fuel to the country from the fuel port in Djibouti, which called Horizon Djibouti Terminal,” Tilahun Sarka, Director General of EDR, told Capital,
The company is looking to connect the Awash depot with the main line that the Director General indicated is not more than 1.5 km.
Currently the two ports in Djibouti that serve the multipurpose and containerized cargo have already connected with the main railway line, while Horizon, which is about 2km from the main line is not connected but should be connected to commence the operation.
EDR has already bought 110 tankers and stored them, while a single fuel tanker shall manage three fuel trucks. For the single tanker the company paid USD 100,000 but the tankers have sat idle for years.
“It is unfair not to use the tankers for this much period,” he explained.
These 110 oil tankers shall be managed by three rails or wagons, according to the head of the joint company of Ethiopia and Djibouti.
“If we operate the rail tankers we shall cover more than 30 percent of the oil transport to the central part of the country,” he added.
“At the same time our daily fleet to Djibouti would be increased by three if the oil cargo transport was commenced,” Tilahun said.
According to the information Capital obtained the company has already tabled the proposal for the relevant government body, Ministry of Finance. He added that it needs also a decision from the Prime Minister’s office.
Experts claimed that the government is not interested in embarking on more investment on the railway line that costs about USD 4 billion on both sides with commercial loan, meanwhile Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ask the financer, China, to extend the repayment and grace period.
Even though the government is not interested to invest more in the railway system it may affect its operation and against the economic value.
They insist the government does more investment on the line for economic advantage, Tilahun said. “Other railway system would work for centuries or more due to they have significant investment every time that should be applied on our operation,” he explained.
“At the initial stage the investment of railway is very high but you have not retreated investing more on the claim once you invested USD 4 billion,” he added.
He claimed the investment might be focus on the feasibility of additional investment.
Based on that Tilahun support the idea the government to invest on the linakge of the line to Awash depot.
At the same time Tilahun appreciated the support of Ministry of Finance, who backs the company indifferent supports including providing working capital.
Ethiopia has 75 percent share on the railway line that is 760km of which 100km is in Djibouti border.
The government is working to transport fertilizer for this coming harvest season via rail system from Doraleh Multipurpose Port, which is recently connected with the main railway line.
Last week relevant government leaders and Tilahun has been visited Djibouti to see the way to commence the fertilizer transport from the port to central Ethiopia.
The SGTD port which was called Doraleh Container Terminal is also connected with the main line about a year ago and currently cargos on container shall be transported from the port directly to Ethiopia via railway.
The 760km railway line costs about USD 4 billion. The line was constructed by two Chinese construction giants, China Railway Engineering Corporation and China Civil Engineering Construction Company.
Based on the bilateral agreement signed on December 16, 2016 the railway share company was formed on January 11, 2017 and one year later, on January 1 the first day of operation started.